A former Connecticut teacher who once served time in prison after being caught on videotape abusing his students pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that he beat and whipped young men he recruited for fake overseas intelligence jobs.
Lawrence Bottone of Stamford, Conn., was arraigned in Westchester County Court on a 29-count indictment that included charges of assault, criminal impersonation and forcible touching. He was ordered held on $250,000 bail.
Bottone called himself Dr. Hunter and approached men in Westchester County from 2008 to 2010 and promised to train them for high-paid security jobs, prosecutors said. Instead, the 53-year-old Bottone forced the men to strip, then beat and whipped them and placed needles under their fingernails during simulated interrogations for jobs that didn't exist, prosecutors said.
During the investigation, police recovered a training kit that included rope, needles, strapping tape and vegetable oil in Bottone's car.
His attorney, Kenneth Bunting, declined to comment.
Prosecutors said they had identified four victims, but police are now expanding their search for additional victims in Connecticut. Bottone approached men near college campuses in Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford, prosecutors said.
If convicted of the most serious charge, Bottone could face up to 25 years in prison.
In 1997, Bottone was sentenced to four years in prison on child pornography and assault charges after he was videotaped abusing his students in a tutoring program.
The tape showed him whipping three boys, pushing a sharp object under their fingernails and rubbing hot oil on the boys, who were sometimes naked.
Bottone, a teacher and tutor in Norwalk, Conn., for 20 years, filmed the video at the program, called SPARC, which stands for Seeking Progress for All Reaching Children. He contended that he was doing research to determine how much risk a person would submit to when asked by an authority figure.